Erik ten Hag would use '11 vs 0' exercise in training, players thought he was 'crazy'
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A player who worked under Erik ten Hag has admitted his teammates thought the Dutch manager was "crazy" after he introduced an 11 vs 0 training exercise.
Sjoerd Overgoor, a defensive midfielder who worked under Ten Hag during his time at Dutch side Go Eagles, has opened up about the Manchester United boss and his methods in a fascinating interview.
The 34-year-old spoke about Ten Hag's standard-setting ways, both on and off the training field, as well as being "really strict" from the very beginning of his managerial reign at the De Adelaarshorst.
As well as the above, he also gave an insight into one of his more bizarre training methods – the 11 against zero exercise.
Overgoor explained the "boring" but effective routine during a chat with The Sun.
He said: "At the end of pre-season, we did a lot of 11 against zero. A lot of players thought, ‘This coach is crazy’.
“He showed us patterns and where to take our positions. Starting from the goalkeeper, he plays to the left central defender, then we build up from there. It’s a little bit boring because you have no opponents to play.
“We did it a lot and after a couple of times, it was, ‘Again? 11 against zero?’ ”
They have may have a tad unorthodox but Ten Hag's methods paid off at the end of the season as the Go Eagles earned promotion to the Eredivisie for the first time in 17 years.
“We recognised patterns in games from the 11 against zero training sessions and that gave us a lot of confidence," Overgoor added.
“And more players started to think, ‘This coach is something special because what we see in training, we see in the games as well’.
“We started to believe more and to listen to exactly what he was going to say.”
Back in June, when Ten Hag first took over at Old Trafford, the former Ajax boss quickly introduced some very specific orders to his training ground staff ahead of the club's return to pre-season.
He ordered grounds staff to trim the grass to exactly 15mm in order to allow the players to get up to speed to his passing style and the demands that comes with it.
The 52-year-old also reviewed the overall fitness of his players in those opening two days of training, but incorporated both fitness and passing into his drills as well as just purely fitness based exercises.
Overgoor explains Ten Hag was the exact same when he arrived at Go Eagles ahead of the 2012/13 campaign.
"From day one, he was the same as he’s been at United, just really strict," he said. "On the first day of training, we had bibs to play eight against eight games — yellow, green and orange.
“After training, we then put them all together and he said, ‘No, I want the yellow ones here, the orange ones here’. If you were late for training, you couldn’t train. “He was strict to make us more professional.”
All of the #mufc players reported for training by 9am this morning. Ten Hag had already been at Carrington for two hours before they arrived [men] pic.twitter.com/IR0z4u2bFW— utdreport (@utdreport) March 6, 2023
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Featured Image Credit: Alamy/Manchester United
Topics: Manchester United, Erik Ten Hag, Premier League, Eredivisie